Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Yodi Zikianda, As Administrator of the Estate of Irene Bamenga v. County of Albany

March 6, 2013

YODI ZIKIANDA, AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF IRENE BAMENGA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COUNTY OF ALBANY, SHERIFF CRAIG APPLE, CORIZON, INC., SYED AZAZ HAIDER-SHAH, M.D., ANNA J. PAULINO, COUNTY OF ALLEGANY, SHERIFF RICK L. WHITNEY, CHERYL RALYEA, DEBRA HARRINGTON, AND CHRISTOPHER DEPNER, M.D., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Randolph F. Treece United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

On July 26, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Complaint alleging causes of action for wrongful death and a survival action on behalf of Irene Bamenga, who died on July 27, 2011. Dkt. No. 1, Compl. Additionally, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiff alleges that Bamenga's constitutional rights were violated. Id. At the time of her

death, Ms. Bamenga was in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and incarcerated at Albany County Jail. It is generally alleged that the Defendants failed to provide Bamenga with urgently needed medical care and treatment for her congestive heart failure; principally, they failed to provide the proper medication which eventually resulted in heart failure and Bamenga's death. Id.

Immediately after her death, and pursuant to established policies, Defendant Corizon, Inc. (hereinafter Corizon)*fn1 conducted post-mortem analyses of her death, which were reduced into two specific reports, "The Root Cause Analysis and Action Plan" and "Mortality Review." On November 26, 2012, Plaintiff served a request for production upon Corizon seeking, inter alia, "[a]ll documents and communications concerning the care and treatment of [Plaintiff's decedent] Irene Bamenga." Dkt. No. 75, Pl.'s Lt.-Mot., dated Feb. 14, 2013, at p. 1. In responding to Plaintiff's Demand, Corizon lodged a privilege log asserting that these two particular Reports were confidential under the self-critical analysis privilege. Id. at p. 1 & Attach. (Privilege Log); Dkt. No. 82, Corizon Lt.-Br., dated Feb. 18, 2013.

On February 14, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Letter-Motion seeking a conference to address this particular non-disclosure. Dkt. No. 75. Pursuant to the Court's direction, and predating a conference, both Plaintiff and Corizon filed submissions that aptly framed the factual and legal discussion regarding the withholding of these Reports.

See Dkt. Nos. 75, 82, 84, Pl.'s Reply Lt.-Br., dated Feb. 19, 2013, & 86, Corizon's Reply Lt.-Br., dated Feb. 25, 2013. And, on February 27, 2013, a Telephonic Hearing was held on the record, wherein all parties were given the opportunity to expound further regarding their respective positions on this particular matter.*fn2

In light of the nature of these Reports and claims that particular harm would be visited upon Corizon should their internal and prospective recommendations be revealed, which would create a disincentive to engage in future evaluative analysis, the Court directed that these reports be produced for an in camera review. Realizing

that Plaintiff had not specifically addressed concerns that disclosure may create harm to or have a chilling effect upon Corizon's interest in performing these kinds of analyses in the future, Plaintiff was provided with an opportunity to file yet another Letter-Brief. See Dkt. No. 88.

A. Root Cause Analysis and Action Plan and Mortality Review Reports.

1. Genesis of the Reports

The National Commission of Correctional Health Care (hereinafter NCCHC) is "an independent non-profit organization dedicated to [] improving the quality of

health care services and assisting correctional facilities in providing effective and efficient care." Dkt. No. 82-2, Gloria Cooper Aff., dated Jan. 14, 2013, at ¶ 3. NCCHC promulgates specific standards relative to medical care, and further accredits correctional facilities, of which Albany County Jail was so accredited during the time of Bamenga's incarceration and treatment. Id. at ¶ 4. These promulgations include procedures in the event of an inmate's death. With the understanding that preventable deaths can be avoided, those procedures and standards pronounced that "all deaths are reviewed to determine the appropriateness of clinical care; to ascertain whether changes to policies, procedures, or practice are warranted and to identify issues that require further study." Dkt. No. 82-2, Ex. B, NCCHC 2008 Standard J-A-10. In order to comply with these standards, a death review includes both an administrative and clinical mortality review with the primary purpose of identifying where internal policies, procedures, and patient care can be "improved." Cooper Aff. at ¶ 4.

Based upon these NCCHC national standards, Corizon implemented its own policies and criterion in reviewing an inmate's death. Dtk. No. 82-2, Exs. C & D (Corizon's Policies). First, these policies state that a "mortality review will be completed as required." Id., Ex. C at p. 1. In this regard, and pursuant to these

required reviews, this elaborate "quality improvement function" is blanketed with "confidentiality." Id., Ex. D. In accordance with Corizon's policy, Gloria Cooper, who was the Albany County Jail Health Service Administrator at the time of these critical events, prepared both the Root Cause Analysis and Action Plan, which "analyzes the role of various factors in Irene Bamenga's death ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.